After hearing claims that Duke’s serves the best burger in Bangkok, we finally decided to pay it a visit. (The original is in Chiang Mai, and this its second address.) It wasn’t without apprehension, though: with its low ceiling, complete absence of natural light and garish gaggle of restaurants, Emporium’s international food court has to be one of the last places we’d like to eat. To cut the suspense short, we don’t think Duke’s does serve the number one burger in town (B245 for the Duke burger)—mostly because the comfort food craze has pushed nicer wagyu burgers onto a lot of menus. We’re not addicted to wagyu in particular, but Duke’s beef patties seem gray and greasy in comparison to some of the medium-rare wonders we’ve had elsewhere. Don’t get us wrong, it’s a great burger with a lot to love—the slightly crusted bun, the fried onions, the big pickle on the side, the fries cut from unpeeled potatoes—but it’s not even our favorite item on their menu. In general, what’s great about Duke’s is the authenticity of its all-American food—and that’s an acquired taste. You need to like oil, and huge portions, and pretty light seasoning by Thai standards. That’s why you’ll see the nearby Mexican joint, Sunrise Tacos (same owner), packs in Thai families while Duke’s customers remain principally Western. Who else could stomach a massive lasagna consisting of ground beef doused in an oddly herbal tomato sauce? Or appetizers the size of mains, like the “fall off the bone” ribs in their saccharine sauce (B125, or B275 for a ½ rack and B475 for a full rack)? Or pizzas cut in squares and served on wire grills? Maybe this food won’t resonate with everyone, but if you’ve spent time in the US, you will appreciate that it does ring true. And there are days when a greasy “pepperoni pepperoni” pizza with its thick (but crispy) crust is as tempting as any delicate pie from Limoncello. Or when a hearty, meaty chili con carne (cup B85, bowl B145) is your idea of health food (beans are vegetables right?). Eating at Duke’s is not entirely rational, but after catching a bit of high-brow design at TCDC, getting tomato sauce all over our face makes for a nice life balance. No corkage.
|Duke’s, 5/F, Emporium, 622 Sukhumvit Rd., Bangkok, Thailand
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